Chairman Welcomes Debate on Western Isles Ferry Service Improvements

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Chairman of Transportation, Cllr Uisdean Robertson, welcomed the debate around how ferry services can be improved to the Western Isles saying:

“It is good to see the discussion on ferry services moving beyond the delayed delivery of the two new ferries to focus on what the correct vessel replacement decisions are. The Comhairle in our evidence to the Parliament’s committee have underlined our firm belief that our islands are suffering from a long period of underinvestment in ferry services that has been followed by some very poor investment choices when Government has made significant funds available.  Had communities been listened to we could have had two new ferries built to serve Stornoway and one new ferry built to provide a dedicated ferry to both Lochmaddy and Tarbert. This would have delivered significant new capacity through increased frequency that would have delivered a step change in the ferry service to the Western Isles. Instead more money has been spent on a single ferry and massive infrastructure investment across the three routes”

On the ongoing delay in delivering NV802 to serve the two crossings on the Triangle, Cllr Robertson added:

“It is disappointing to note the comments from Jim McColl of Ferguson Marine focus almost solely on a contractual dispute with CMAL. Instead of arguments over contracts, what the Comhairle want to hear is what action the yard is taking to accelerate build of NV802 which is now scheduled to be as late as the original forecast build time. This is not good enough where lifeline ferry services are concerned.  If there does prove to be a breach of contract on delivering this vessel, the liable party should be required to fund an alternative ferry that could be leased to CalMac to allow a dedicated ferry to operate on each of the Triangle services from Summer 2019.”